back to article 600 armed German cops storm Cyberbunker hosting biz on illegal darknet market claims

Cops have seized the physical premises and servers of the Dutch-German ISP that once hosted The Pirate Bay – after storming the hosting biz's ex-NATO bunker hideout with 600 gunmen. Cyberbunker, aka CB3ROB, was shut down by German police in what appears to be a military-grade operation targeting the hosting firm's Traben- …

  1. Blockchain commentard
    Black Helicopters

    Just as well we never started war with Russia/USSR if a handful of cops can take out a NATO grade bunker.

    1. thegroucho

      This implies the ISP outfit actually had the proper security procedures in place to be able to at least contain the police for a bit. And the onsite security were actually worth something.

      I used to regularly go to an unnamed datacentre near London. For non-ex-army environment the place was really tough to get into.

      You need to get through a full-sized steel turnstile controlled by the security booth, then enter the security boot through steel door, mini-turnstile, another steel door. This only gets you into the courtyard, not the actual building. There are still something like 3-4 locked doors until you can reach equipment. And oh, another full-sized turnstile for every data area, transparent walls but still.

      Vehicles were only allowed in if they were pre-registered, twin gates, metre high retractable bollards between the gates, likely able to flip over a lorry.

      The security are ex-Gurkha. Look small and puny, but I suspect they can carry me for 1/2 mile, and I'm well over 6'. I would certainly will not spill their pint, or if I do will ask with my sweetest voice if they wanted replacement.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        From that I know which facility you are on about. It was always a good one to give prospective customers a tour round as it is a bit bonkers.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        " I used to regularly go to an unnamed datacentre near London."

        It sounds impressive, but it's sad that with all the effort that went into securing the place, they couldn't even be bothered to name it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "they couldn't even be bothered to name it."

          A customer had a data centre in an industrial estate that was intended to be low profile. However it had a Fort Knox appearance - and it had no name plates. Which made it stick out like a sore thumb amongst all the other vanilla buildings which all displayed large company name plates and logos.

      3. Mike_G

        Wouldnt be near Woking would it :)

    2. Nunyabiznes

      I'm guessing the current occupants weren't fully up to speed on physical security and weren't armed like the original occupants would have been.

    3. Olafthemighty

      "A handful of cops"..?

      You have freakishly big hands.

  2. joeW

    I do have a certain amount of sympathy for their position.

    > "he appears to be claiming that the bunker was some kind of independent nation state and that he is actually called HRH Prince Sven Olaf of CyberBunker-Kamphuis"

    Aaaaaand it's gone.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Well, if you want to secede and build your own little kingdom, you have to ensure first you've an army large enough to defend it...

      1. ma1010

        This isn't the first time

        Back in the 1950's there was a group of rich American businessmen who decided they didn't want to pay any taxes. Their dodge was to buy an island in the Caribbean and declare sovereignty - "Hey, we're our own country - the U.S. government can't tax us!"

        A little later, a small gunboat from some island republic landed and "conquered" the fledgling nation. The inhabitants screamed bloody murder and said "We're U.S. citizens! You can't do this!" The State Department demurred, pointing out that they had declared themselves sovereign, so the defense of their own "nation" was their problem.

        I suspect someone in the U.S. government arranged the "attack." After that incident, AFAIK, no one else decided to try that particular tax-avoidance trick.

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: This isn't the first time

          Their dodge was to buy an island in the Caribbean and declare sovereignty

          They found that directly buying the US Government was at least as cost-effective.

        2. ratfox
          Paris Hilton

          Re: This isn't the first time

          Source for the story? This sounds invented.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This isn't the first time

            "This sounds invented."

            Similar to the sea fort off the coast of England claimed as "The Principality of Sealand".

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: This isn't the first time

              And the UK got around the Sealand problem by extending their territorial claim from 3 miles to 12. ;-)

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: This isn't the first time

            I don't know about the original example, but it is possible they were referring to the "Republic of Minerva". This attempt at creating an independent island occurred in the Pacific rather than the Caribbean. It's unclear whether Tonga already asserted that these islands (underwater islands, but islands nonetheless) were part of their country, but either way they took them by force and they are still recognized as Tongan territory.

        3. Chris King

          Re: This isn't the first time

          I suspect someone in the U.S. government arranged the "attack".

          "Nice bananas and flowers you've got on the dock, Mister President. It would be terribly unfortunate if merchant shipping was prevented from landing by some surprising well-equipped pirates..."

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Yes. For some reason, while I was reading that bit, it was accompanied by the sound of a Black Forest cuckoo clock chiming midday playing in my head.

  3. Dazed and Confused

    600 cops

    That must have been quite a full bunker

    It reminds me of a raid on a pub next door to a place I used to work. The pub was rumoured to be a place where it was possible to buy things not commonly for sale in high street shops. Usually when cops wondered into such establishments it wasn't uncommon for items for sale to somehow get dropped by patrons while visiting the sanitary facilities. So one day coach loads of men in blue uniforms turned up and just piled into the pub till it was impossible for anyone to move and hence to dispose of any inconvenient package which had somehow fallen into their pockets.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: 600 cops

      Remember it's Oktoberfest there... maybe afters some beers they decided it would have be fun to raid the bunker all together....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 600 cops

      something stinks here with this number, it's hell of a lot of people. I mean, it's not like they were there to cover all 45 hidden escape routes from the bunker? Or storming one single entrance, 600 cops strong ,or even half of them. I imagine even 60 (armed) cops in a confined space would have been a crowd...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "he is actually called HRH Prince Sven Olaf of CyberBunker-Kamphuis."

    The usual reaction to claims like that is "and whose army?". Not his, obviously.

  5. Martin J Hooper

    For more info on the Spamhaus DDOS -

    More info on this raid -

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aren't all German cops armed?

    1. thegroucho

      This happens if you don't want SAS to get involved in civilian operations.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Yes. But they rarely use their weapons and most reach retirement without having drawn their weapon on duty, let alone fired it outside the shooting range.

      I think the statistic was for the shooting in San Bernardino, the police there fired more shots in that one incident that the whole German police force in a year. The last figure I can find is 85 shots for the whole year, 49 of which were warning shots, 15 criminals injured and 6 killed.

      1. Gwaptiva

        In Germany, some police are more armed than other police.... I'm still shaking at the memory of the morning an Arrest Team (SEK) stormed my neighbour's flat. I'm just a regular nerdy joe, and I was in the flat next door, but I nearly peed my pants at the shock and awe. And that was just a regular SEK... GSG9 are another level altogether

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Germans storming bunkers.... must have made a nice change for them!

    1. joeW

      The Belgians wouldn't think so.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Keyboard, new, owe -->

      Damn you for your perfect coffee-sip timing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Germans storming bunkers...

      well, some were storming, others were defending... a mild case of a civil war, nothing to see here ;)

    4. j.bourne
      Thumb Up

      Best quip of the day award

      New keyboard & monitor please - And while you're at it - a fresh coffee.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    600 cops eh ?

    Guess they were all clamouring for the overtime before Christmas.

    1. Alister

      600 cops eh ?

      In the UK that's about six county forces worth...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      600 armed German cops, but I don't see any mention of weapons seized.

      Just as well, since your average policeman shouldn't be entrusted with a firearm. They have a bad habit of shooting innocent bystanders and each other.

      I had a friend that was an ex-Navy Seal that provided firearms training for the local police department.

      His opinion was that none of them should be allowed to carry a gun.

      1. thegroucho

        In UK the regular police units don't carry weapons.

        Ergo the reason to have

        I think your friend should do better to advocate for firearms control (assuming he was training the police in USA) and training as opposed to grandstanding.

        P.S. For the record, the downvote wasn't mine

        1. DontFeedTheTrolls

          "In UK the regular police units don't carry weapons firearms". Batons, Tasers and CS spray are all weapons, albeit generally regarded as non-lethal.

          There was a case in the UK a few years ago where Highland officers were routinely armed. It didn't go down well when it hit the media.

          1. Muscleguy

            The cops in the Highlands were 'routinely armed' by having a weapon securely locked in their vehicle. This was because it was often a VERY long way for the local armed response unit to come all the way from Inverness or even Aberdeen.

            In NZ the cops aren't routinely armed though they too usually have recourse to a firearm (rifle or shotgun) locked in a footwell of their vehicle. Again in many places time to backup reaching you can be very long and most of the cockies (farmers) will have access to licensed firearms for pest control* or putting down injured stock.

            *1. Wabbits

            2. Brush tailed possums (escaped Aussies)

            3. Feral cats (wandering cats can be shot on sight as can dogs on agricultural land)

            4. Feral goats. Taar are usually confined to conservation land these days.

            5. Wallabies in one South Island area More escaped Aussies.

            Many people also hunt for food. Feral pigs (descendants of 18thC British pigs), red deer and ducks (in season but NOT the protected ones you have to know the difference). My BiL does this with my nephew but includes goats and wallabies on occasion. A good butcher will happily turn the less useful parts of a deer or pig carcass into sausage for you. The venison snags I tried there last year were fab, and gluten free too.

        2. joeW

          > In the UK the regular police units don't carry weapons.

          In Great Britain the regular police units don't carry weapons. In the UK's other constituent part, they usually do.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Frankly, in Europe many police forces are armed - even with automatic weapons - and the event of innocent bystanders shot is very, very rare.

        Maybe because:

        1) They are far, far less afraid people are armed with semi-automatic assault weapons

        2) They don't open fire as quickly as US police

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Well they don't open fire as quickly as US police because the general population doesn't have guns.

          Whaddya know, when guns are outlawed only the criminals have guns and the police know who to shoot.

          1. rg287

            Well they don't open fire as quickly as US police because the general population doesn't have guns.

            Au contraire. Most of Europe has plenty of guns. Not as many as the US, but plenty nonetheless.

            The Czech Republic even has concealed carry permits - 2/3 of legal gun owners have one.

            The Czech homicide rate is half that of the UK (no, not the USA, the UK) despite the fact that people can and do walk the streets with guns on their hips.

            Firearm violence has remarkably little to do with firearm ownership (otherwise Europe would have homicide rates 3-5x higher than the UK - which they don't). Violent crime correlates to societal failings, and in the US the relatively ready access to firearms translates to firearm violence, but if you took away the guns they'd just have high levels of knife crime instead. The firearms are - at most - a symptom.

            It's mostly to do with culture, proper training of Police and the fact we have far fewer desperate people in Europe rendered bankrupt by medical bills/lack of social welfare.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Re: they'd just have high levels of knife crime

              I don't think so. Using a gun is impersonal, using a knife is very much up close and personal. Plus you might get blood on yourself.

              But I do agree that the societal guardrails we have thanks to welfare and social care are certainly what keeps the pot from boiling over.

              1. OrientalHero

                Re: they'd just have high levels of knife crime

                It's not just the societal guard rails, it's also having none of the monetary pitfalls/spears pushing ppl over the edge. I just read an article in the Economist about Electronic Tagging and I'm a bit flabbergasted about the way it works in the US.

                So this lady has spent 3 weeks in jail because she got into an argument whilst on probation and the other party called the cops. 3 weeks cos she can't afford the 500USD bail.

                A charity pays the bail at that point, and she has to wear electronic tagging.

                She's charged 13USD per day and 50USD initial.

                After several weeks and no-shows by the claimant, the charges are dismissed and the lady is released as innocent as she was when she went in, but now in debt for X hundreds of USD...


                The tagging costs the authorities far less than keeping someone locked up, so I'm not sure why they don't foot the bill.

            2. Sir Runcible Spoon

              I seem to recall a study that compared US and Canada, both of whom have similar levels of gun ownership apparently.

              Iirc, the study concluded that most of the difference was down to how the media portrayed violence (the news especially). I.e. the more it's glorified, the more gun crime there is.

              Weird huh?

        2. Tomato42

          also, to be a police officer in EU you have to actually study for it, not have a 2 week course with an instructor that sleeps on the job

          I wouldn't be surprised if a typical EU cop had more training hours with firearms than US cop total

          1. onemark03

            Here in Germany, police training lasts between two-and-a-half and three years.

            1. Tomato42

              Nice, in Poland it's "just" 6.5 months (1200 hours in classroom/shooting range/training) and then 2 months as an "intern" for the lowest grade. But that's after you are actually selected to be a police officer which requires passing a test of knowledge, psychiatric evaluation, background check, etc.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        85 shots fired per year, 49 warning shots, 15 suspects injured and 6 killed. That was from 2012.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Servers in space ?

    I find myself idly wondering about the practicalities of shoving a server in a satellite ? Especially as private space launches are now "a thing".

    I guess this explains where TVChaos has got to.

    1. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Servers in space ?

      Radiation shielding them is likely to be an issue. I've no idea what they do to achieve it these days but I used to be involved in building rad hardened chips and back then you had to make them on top of an insulator such as sapphire.

      Do they just accept that you can't stop it and just go in for massive redundancy and ECC these days?

      1. eldakka

        Re: Servers in space ?

        Considering the number of communications and spy satellites in orbit, which are basically orbiting computers with accessories, I think this is a solved problem (for at least LEO/GEO and assuming a mega-flare isn't involved).

        If you want to put serious processing power in space, I think powering it all would be an issue, not radiation shielding.

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Servers in space ?

          ITYM a couple of specialised (departments of) companies know how to build that stuff; it's still not quite COTS

        2. Julz

          Re: Servers in space ?

          Cooling it would be the main problem.

      2. rg287

        Re: Servers in space ?

        Do they just accept that you can't stop it and just go in for massive redundancy and ECC these days?

        That's been the SpaceX approach - forget paying $$$ for a rad-hardened chip, just fly 5 regular chips and vote between them. Of course most of their hardware to date (rocketry) doesn't actually spend much time in space, only Dragon has an endurance stretching into days and I'm not sure what they do with that.

        Given their proposed StarLink satellites will be in LEO and have expected lifespans of a couple of years, the value proposition of rad-hardened chips is lower compared with a major science instrument or expensive GEO satellite which needs to last 10+years. If you've scaled to launching >5,000 satellites losing a few prematurely to radiation is just a cost of doing business.

    2. thegroucho

      Re: Servers in space ?

      I dare you to go and swap a failed disk ...

      1. VikiAi

        Re: Servers in space ?

        Auto-eject them and let them security-wipe in the atmosphere. (Reload a fresh one from a magazine of spares).

    3. Stoneshop

      Re: Servers in space ?

      I find myself idly wondering about the practicalities of shoving a server in a satellite

      As satellite launches get billed to the customer according to launch weight[0], that's pi[1] in the sky

      [0] couple 100k EUR/UKP/USD per kg to reach a geostationary orbit

      [1] needs to be rad-hardened, plus there's still the solar panels and/or RTGs and the comms dish[2]

      [2] uplink won't be cheap either.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Servers in space ?

        Lots of logistical issues there. Your issues:

        1. Construction of a satellite to withstand the conditions of orbit.

        2. Having sufficient power supply, almost certainly from solar, to run the equipment.

        3. Provision of sufficient processing, memory, and storage given the constraints of power supply and physical space.

        4. Actually getting a launch.

        5. The insurance if your rocket blows up.

        6. The insurance if your satellite fails once in orbit.

        7. Methods for controlling the satellite's orbital path so it won't hit or be hit by another one and people to monitor and use those methods.

        8. A plan for what you'll do when the satellite decays out of orbit. Depending on how you've put this up, this might take a while before you care.

        9. The method of communication with the satellite, as you won't be granted a monopoly over any frequency and disruption from other comms systems is likely a risk.

        10. The method of connecting users to the satellite. Either they'll have to have similar hardware that you use, or you'll still have to downlink to the ground and use the facilities of ISPs, in which case have you really gained anything.

        11. The potential that your project won't be seen kindly by your nation of residence, either because they don't like what you've put on the server, they don't like that your satellite is messing up other people's comms, or similar.

        12. The potential that your business won't be seen kindly by your nation of residence, which can block your actions just fine while you are operating things from the ground.

        13. The potential that either of the above won't be seen kindly by a nation in which you are not a resident but which does have an extradition treaty with your nation of residence. Since your satellite probably provides service throughout most of the world, they can argue that they have standing to prosecute you.

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Servers in space ?

          The method of connecting users to the satellite. Either they'll have to have similar hardware that you use,

          That would be just what would be required for standard satellite Internet, with probably a sprinkling of encryption. Some of those systems don't even require a terrestrial link to a gateway, unlike the early sat systems that were meant to just boost your download speeds for larger stuff (where RTT mattered less). Apart from that you need at least three satellites to cover most of the Earth, though you might get away with two if you concentrate on where the bulk of your customers are.

          But your terrestrial control for the systems 'up there' would still be as vulnerable to being taken out as any other ISP, unless you happen to run it out of that undersea volcanic lair.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Servers in space ?

      I can imagine the cops raiding it too..

      Piiiiiiigggggggssssss iiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnn Spaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccceeeeeeeeeee !!!!

    5. DontFeedTheTrolls

      Re: Servers in space ?

      There's an El Reg article about HP's Supercomputer's return from it ISS. Radiation is a significant problem.

      COTS hardware is not up to the job of operating economically in space given there were 200 servers seized in this raid.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    I can't decide?

    Which is weirder?

    HRH Prince Sven Olaf of CyberBunker-Kamphuis


    600 armed police officers storming an ISP, granted it is pretty big, and deep - but 600?

    1. GrumpenKraut
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I can't decide?

      > but 600?

      From what I gathered they wanted all machine _running_ to avoid having to put in passwords (or funny self-kill mechanisms activated). This plus "NATO bunker" does add up.

      Apparently the planning was going on for years.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data centre operations shut down by the police

    Someone must have dialled Nein Nein Nein

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "200 servers along with documents, cellphones and large quantities of cash"

    Yep, but no guns.

    600 armed officers seems a tad much for invading an ISP's premises, even if said ISP is located in a bunker. I mean come on, there's 450 of those guys who must have spent four hours just standing around.

    Yes, it was a WWII bunker. That does not mean that it was defended like a WWII bunker. If it had been, I'm pretty sure that 600 cops might not have been enough, and the death toll would have been, as they say, catastrophic.

    A much better option would have been to send a squad of 20 men, and keep a hundred as backup. If shots got actually fired, then bring in the army.

    They made a pseudo-military operation out of a perfectly civilian one.

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: "200 servers along with documents, cellphones and large quantities of cash"

      Yes, it was a WWII bunker.

      Nope. Built in 1955.

      Not all Japanese got notified of the end of WW2, especially those on small, remote Pacific islands with some keeping at it well into the 1970s and 1980s, but in Germany no-one considered the war not to have been over for ten years then.

    2. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: "200 servers along with documents, cellphones and large quantities of cash"

      They made a pseudo-military operation out of a perfectly civilian one

      Yeah but I bet it was a great experience, EVERRRRYOOOOONE!!! wanted to go

    3. rg287

      Re: "200 servers along with documents, cellphones and large quantities of cash"

      600 armed officers seems a tad much for invading an ISP's premises, even if said ISP is located in a bunker. I mean come on, there's 450 of those guys who must have spent four hours just standing around.

      It's Germany. The Police are routinely armed. "600 armed officers" is a tautology and just means "600 officers". One would assume there was a "breaching" group who did the initial entry and secured the premises, followed by a large contingent of specialist/forensic officers who were armed by dint of being German Police Officers, but weren't specifically members of the MP5-toting black-vest club.

      There's "armed" and "armed".

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: "200 servers along with documents, cellphones and large quantities of cash"

        "600 armed officers"

        That's ... exceptional.

        They usually have just two.

  13. vtcodger Silver badge

    How to get there

    For the curious, the command bunker complex is marked on Google Maps. It's at 49.699118, 7.083355. There's what I take to be a trailhead ("Wanderparkplatz traumschleife Boerfink") on the road a few hundred meters SW of the buildings with a path that will probably take you and 599 of your closest friends into the heart of the surface complex without having to bother the folks at the gate.

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge

    600 armed police to arrest 15 people, does it really need 40 cops for every person arrested or where they expecting a lot more people or resistance.

    I suspect a lot of this was a phising operation as they knew that the data centre was probably hosting illegal content and so they raid to see who they can catch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably they wanted to insure that they had enough people to prevent destruction of evidence. They might not think there are 100 people inside, but if they don't know if there are 10 or 25 they need a big force to insure they catch all the people quickly before they can push the "destroy all incriminating evidence" button.

      1. GrumpenKraut
        Thumb Up


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Resistance is futile

      Partly it may be the police just being prepared for possible insane attempts at resistance.

      Also, I think that the main reason will be that the police are thinking that as soon as they enter, they then need to have the numbers to rapidly get everywhere in the complex and detain / disable everyone as near to simultaneous as possible. If one or two suspects are free for even a few minutes, then there is a big risk (*if* the suspects are competent) that they will be able to start some kind of process to destroy or encrypt the evidence in the data centre.

      The 600 might also include police IT forensics boffins.

  15. Stoneshop


    That would be several tens, and possibly up to a hundred, rooms and corridors, which you want to enter nearly simultaneously to avoid the crew, any of who might be in any of those rooms, being alerted and starting a data wipe. Not that that can't be reconstructed if not done using thermite or explosives (and I doubt the crew had those measures in place), but you want to be sure to capture most if not all of it with as little disruption as possible, hence the flooding. Quite similar to the pub scenario described above.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 5000m^2

      but unless the building also had hundreds of seperate entrances for those hundreds of rooms and corridors.....

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: 5000m^2

        The authorities would know the layout, and GSG9 is quite able to deal with a situation like that.

  16. arctic_haze

    I wonder how much they actually secured

    Does anyone know how long it took to break into the bunker?

    1. Derezed

      Re: I wonder how much they actually secured

      I know that the chance of success was calculated as 32.33 repeating, of course.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Is it just me, or does 200 servers sound like a small number?

    When I was in the colocation business, we had lots of customers with over 200 servers just in individual cages (albeit, in cages large than 200 or 300 square feet). Having a 5 story bunker with 200 servers sounds very low-density by comparison. I wonder if they never upgraded power and cooling when the bunker was converted to a bit barn. I suppose that given the nature of the facility it would be pretty hard to upgrade.

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: Is it just me, or does 200 servers sound like a small number?

      It's not like your average commercial customer, quite likely comparatively low server requirements, low bandwidth, just lots of storage.

    2. John Jennings

      Re: Is it just me, or does 200 servers sound like a small number?

      Last place I was in had 900 servers in a single Vblock. We had 2 of them.

  18. localzuk Silver badge


    If the company didn't know the specifics of what was being hosted there, I suspect there may be a lawsuit coming from this. If they did know, then I suspect rather long jail sentences in the future.

  19. JohnG

    I can understand that they would have found the cash but one would have thought that the whole point of the bunker would be to delay the ingress of the law, while all the servers, mobiles, etc. were wiped of incriminating content. But then, I am not a Crown Prince of anywhere.

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